Blancpain – Oceana and Blancpain lead an expedition to protect the reefs of the Gulf of Mexico

by Chamath Gamage
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Ever since Blancpain’s 1953 launch of the Fifty Fathoms timepiece, the first modern diving watch, the brand has made quite a history with the ocean. The brand created the Blancpain Ocean Commitment, which has seen them co-finance 20 major scientific expeditions, played a role in extending the surface of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in the world by more than four million km2, undertook underwater photography exhibitions and publications, and also presented numerous award-winning documentaries. 

In October 2020, Blancpain announced its association with Oceana, the largest international organisation dedicated to ocean conservation. Blancpain made a multi-year partnership with Oceana, and one of the first acts of this partnership is an expedition in Mexico that will start on August 9th. Lasting for 15 days, the two entities will launch the Project Alacranes expedition, which will explore the depths of two certain areas that contain some of the greatest marine wealth in the Gulf of Mexico. 

A total of 10 scientists with varying specialties will take part in the exploration where they will conduct environmental DNA analysis and photomosaic modelling. This research will then be used to create 3D maps of the reef which will give an idea of the types of species that inhabit the reef. The scientists will make use of a sonar called “Fish Hunter PRO” which will give information on the schools of fish, which will then make it possible to manage and monitor fish stocks for commercial use and in doing so, create sustainable guidelines for the management of the fishery resources. Where the Project Alacranes exploration will take place, there are thought to be at least 136 species of fish, 34 being coral, and also various dolphin species. 

Renata Terrazas, Executive Director of Oceana in Mexico states that “Our objective is to collect scientific information that allows us to determine the current status of this Marine Protected Area, and to use this information to promote the changes needed to protect and guarantee the future of this important ecosystem.” “Despite being a Protected Area, the Scorpion Reef is not exempt from pollution, illegal fishing, and potentially destructive tourism, threats that must be fought. In the case of Bajos del Norte, the risk is greater because it has no legal protection.”

The exploration team will first travel to the reefs of Bajos Del Norte, which is an area that has very little scientific research conducted. From Bajos Del Norte, the team will return to Purto Progreso where they will restock and approximately 34 hours later will head for the Alacranes Reef. 

Blancpain President and CEO, Marc A. Hayek said that “Blancpain has had an incredibly close relationship with the ocean since the early 1950s when we released the Fifty Fathoms, the first modern diving watch. With the Blancpain Ocean Commitment, our aim is to raise awareness of the importance of the oceans for human life and to contribute to their protection. To do so, we centre our initiatives on three axes: beauty, to show people what the underwater world has to offer and arouse their interest; knowledge, to learn about the areas that need attention; and protection, to ensure efficient ocean conservation. We are proud to be part of Project Alacranes, which meets all three of these criteria, and have faith in Oceana’s strength in exploration, scientific research and advocacy to make a difference towards Mexico’s biodiversity, the local populations, and ultimately the world.”

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